When South Korea’s largest hotel and tour group Sono group with over 12 million guests a year (24 % of the South Korean population) now expanding into Europe, they choose Sundsvall, Västernorrland and the High Coast, in Sweden. First up will be the company’s latest investment; Sono Pet Club & Resorts that welcomes more than just pets and their owner families.
“The Sono Group has many different legs in its business concept – and we look forward to seeing you here in person in about a month and continuing the talks. Whether hotels, ski areas, golf courses or dog-friendly facilities, says Mia Karlsson, CEO of Höga Kusten Destination Development. “What we do know is that we have piqued their interest in our area – and that is probably primarily our nature and accessibility to outdoor life. It’s a trend that is growing incredibly quickly in Asia.
The Sono Group, which has a hotel complex in Brno, Czech Republic, has explored Europe for other suitable locations for further investments. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) is signed with High Coast Invest on August 6th.
“The fact that the South Korean Sono Group wants to sign a long-term cooperation agreement shows the strength and attractiveness of our offer in the hospitality industry. Our entrepreneurs and public actors have been working consciously and strategically on the development of our destinations for a long time and we are seeing a strong and positive trend despite the pandemic. With a company like Sono in the region, our prerequisites for further growth and the development of new markets are strengthened,” says Bengt Högberg, Senior Investment Advisor at High Coast Invest, who has been in dialogue with the Sono Group since mid-February.
Sono Group’s tourism investments follow the trend of billions in investments in the north. Led by technology and industrial companies such as Northvolt in Skellefteå, Hybrit in Luleå, H2 Green Steel in Boden in Boden, the Malmporten shipping project in Luleå, the move of Svenska Rallyt from Värmland to Umeå and, most recently, the government’s will to build the Norrbottnia line.
“At Daemyung Sono Group, we will continue to actively grow our pet concept, which is one of the company’s core businesses, and the investment in the High Coast will be an excellent start to our European expansion,” Says Sono Group Vice President Taewan Yoo, who will visit Sweden on August 6th to sign a MoU agreement with High Coast Invest.
The Sono Group has a strong focus on the so-called K-Pet culture (Korean pet culture). They are investing in accommodations where the pets are really family members. For example, they have experience and offer them finely cooked dishes in the restaurant. The Sono Group would like to transfer this concept to Europe and Sweden through its expansion.
Despite the pandemic, the destinations Höga Kusten and Sundsvall show strong tourist growth. The reasons for this are mainly investments in outdoor tourism, which the Swedish marketing company Visit Sweden sees as a sustained global growth trend.
“The great outdoors and living outdoors are still the world’s fastest growing travel trends, and interest was heightened by the pandemic that saw lockdowns and strict restrictions force people to stay indoors and at home to avoid the Overcome the spread of infection.” That says Susanne Andersson, CEO of Visit Sweden.
With the help of Business Sweden, the Sono Group is now signing a long-term cooperation agreement (MoU) with the investment promotion organization High Coast Invest from Västernorrland. To set up and develop businesses in Västernorrland.
“We know that Västernorrland County and Destination Sundsvall have incredibly large areas with features that may be relevant to settlement. In this situation, however, it is important that it takes place in accordance with the ideas of layout and brand that we and Destination Sundsvall have. But it feels good in the previous dialogues! “ continues Mia Karlsson.
Above all, various types of destination and concept hotels are being discussed, with Sono Pet Club & Resorts being the first to open.
“The fact that a major international hotel group like the Sono Group is establishing exciting concepts along the High Coast with the ambition of further expansion shows the confidence in the future and the attractiveness of the region. Where visitors can explore the rich cultural life and fabulous nature experiences,” says Jan Larsson, CEO of Business Sweden.
“It feels fantastic that we are making the first investment of this kind in Sweden from an international player like the Sono Group.” Says Mia Karlsson. “It is particularly gratifying that the unique environment of the world heritage class and the great potential of the destinations have aroused the interest of the Sono Group.”
However, it is still too early to say how many jobs, hotel complexes, or how large the investments will be over time.
“In the fall, the work will continue to find concrete business opportunities for Sono. We already have some interesting conversations going on, but we will also work to find new ideas,” says Bengt Högberg.